The reason for my long silence! I've been flat out finishing paintings , framing and packing ready for my solo exhibition. I hope that if you're in Nelson you'll be able to join us at the opening , or call in during the exhibition to check out my new work.
Another busy year has almost finished and Christmas day is almost here.
Whatever your beliefs, I hope that you have a happy , safe time with your family and friends and that 2019 is a good year for you. With all of the problems facing the world it would be great to think that we can all make more of an effort to look after each other and the earth during 2019.
If you're travelling please take care on the roads , and if you're passing through Nelson Lakes please call in and say hi - the studio will be open most days except Christmas.
thanks for your support through 2018, Jan
Top of my grandies list at the moment is going painting with NanNan. We take some basic materials, morning tea and sunhats and head for the nearby beach. There is no teaching going on here, we just enjoy sitting on the rocks and painting whatever we feel like.Grandson(7) is humming a happy tune to himself while he paints the Skytower (which we can't see from where we are).Grandaughter (8) decides that the sky should be red because Rangitoto is a volcano. I'm just contentedly enjoying the sparkles on the waves.
As we pack up to head home my grandson says : NanNan, when I grow up I'm going to come and live next door to you so we can go painting together"....
With Armistice Day this coming Sunday this seems an appropriate week to paint poppies..With all of the turmoil and worry going on in our world sometimes we need to take a moment to be grateful, and thoughtful of others who are not so lucky.
I love poppies - they are such simple , silken shapes. Here just for a brief time with their beautiful transparent petals glowing. Throw some seed in your garden and they'll reward you with a cheerful spring show .
Silver is a colour ( and a word) which has always fascinated me. To me it symbolises something delicate, ethereal , dreamy. Growing up by the sea I was often surrounded by silver , the sparkle of sunlight on the waves , the beach sand and the ever present Wellington clouds streaming out across Cook Strait. Painting with silver is a tricky business , as it's made from all three primaries and the balance of your mixture needs to be just right or you'll end up with purple or brown. I don't (usually ) miss the sea, now that we live up in the mountains , but I do sometimes miss that silvery backdrop, sea merging softly into the sky.
I'm busy working towards a solo exhibition at the Suter Gallery in February , and some of the works will definitely feature a silver theme.This one is the Tasman Sea at dusk ...
Who else watched Tom Petty "Damn the Torpedoes" last night? A fascinating documentary about an amazing musician.One of the things Tom that said really struck a chord with me (pardon the pun).
He was talking about composing music and said something along the line of "We always played them first on an acoustic guitar. It shouldn't matter what you play it on , a good song still sounds good on acoustic guitar or piano "(as well as electric guitar)...wow.That stopped me in my tracks.
I paint in both acrylic and watercolour ((two instruments) and Tom was so right- if the song (compostion/idea) is a good one you should be able to play it on either and it will still sound good.
I don't often paint the same composition (another pun?) twice , but this is one time when I did..I really enjoyed painting version 1 in watercolour and did it again in acrylic, and yes, I think both are strong paintings.
Time to get back into the studio and put on "Wildflowers" while I paint.
How many other people were staggered this week to find out that we'd all been needlessly struggling with unwrapping Oxo cubes for many years?Picking off all of those annoying little bits of foil that get caught in the grooves? When , as it turns out, all we had to do was unfold the corners , give it a whack and hey presto! A neat little sachet which is then easy to open and sprinkle the powder from.
Sometimes we just need someone to state the obvious!
I've just been reading a blog by Robert Genn about "pushing back" - keep your viewers eye in the painting. There are many theories about composition , some of them quite complicated. It turns out (according to Mr Genn, who is usually correct) that all you need to do to stop someones eye leaving your artwork early is to place obstacles in their way so that they are pushed back into the painting. Simple. A bit like fencing in stock (the kind with legs and horns , not Oxo Chicken/Beef).
As it turns out , I've been doing this unconsciously for years. I looked back at this painting of Makara Beach near Wellington and can see that I instinctively framed both sides of the view with cliffs. which means your eye travels around between the cliffs, checking out Mana Island then on down to the driftwood then slides back up the cliff again (I hope).
But I didn't realise that I was doing that - instead was probably stressing about placing focal points on Golden Means etc etc.
Thanks Mr G, for putting it into words. And maybe the makers of Oxo need to put the directions on the wrapper!
PS. The painting of Makara was done on an old piece of battered plywood which I found washed up on the beach there after a storm. And yes it's still for sale - complete with rough shattered edges where it crashed around on the rocks :)
Maybe this has nothing to do with painting....today I took my sketch book and paints over to West Bay ,where the Buller river leaves the lake. The mountains are currently topped with snow, the sun was shining and I needed some calm thinking space.
Recently, someone close to me has been diagnosed with dementia.I find myself worrying about her while I watch the horrible process of her losing her awareness. She can no longer read (although she can still write) so emails and letters don't work. Phone conversations are difficult , as she forgets a word and we play I spy through the alphabet until we (sometimes) hit the jackpot. Skype is great though! She can see who she is talking to , and though she sometimes wanders off for a while we manage to have quite long conversations.Even if I'm not always certain that she remembers I'm there!
Anyhow, there I was, painting by the lake, when a woman about my age walked out of the bush.We both said hi and she stopped to see what I was doing. Turned out that she is an artist also - with a studio inside what used to be the lunatic asylum (horrible term) in Hokitika. We got talking about the building and the people who must have been patients there.
Then she told me about her schizophrenic Dad , who she visited every day while he was in hospital , talking to him even though he didn't respond and was going through awful psychotic stuff. And finally , a couple of weeks before he died he became lucid and she realised that all along he had known that she was talking with him .
"Don't ever give up and stop talking" was her advice. I am constantly amazed how often a stranger will turn out to have something wise to say to me at the right moment.
This painting was done for me by my friend when I myself was very ill - the writing on it reads
"A way through many layers of happiness
and myriad hues of friends and family and love
If it wasn't for the darker bits in our lives we wouldn't be able to see the pretty lights".
If you know someone suffering from a neurological illness please don't give up on them - you may not think they notice your love, but you might just be the anchor that they need..
A few days ago a friend loaned my a book that she'd enjoyed - "The Hut Builder"by Laurence Fearnley. I settled down to read it and quickly realised that the setting was Aoraki/Mt.Cook .The story is about a young man from Fairlie who is struggling to become someone other than his fathers butchery apprentice (among other things). He finds himself helping build a climbing hut on the mountain , and begins to see that there is more to life than making sausages :) BUT, what really caught my imagination was that he spent his time looking across to Mt. Sefton (between Aoraki and the Hermitage. I've painted Sefton several times, it's a wildly beautiful mountain with glacial shelves angling down it's face. So I had to put down the book and pick up my brushes....and here it comes.
Usually at this time of year my studio is a quiet spot. For me, winter is a time to regroup , when I reflect on work done, successes and failures , ideas for new paintings . Today it's chilly outside, so I have my studio woodburner cheerfully warming the room, Rolling Stones playing ( meaning occasional bursts of crazy dancing). I'm having a big spring clean , getting rid of dried up tubes of paint, long dead brushes, frames which I'll no longer use. I'm putting together a box of art supplies which I no longer need to send off to a local art group. I find this cleaning catharsis is good for my soul - as I clear away things I no longer use or want I find that I'm beginning to think of new paintings. In itself, just the act of passing on materials for someone else to use makes you feel good :)
Whatever your creative niche , I think that its important to pause sometimes to check that you're still going in the right direction.
Every now and then I need to go through this process of resetting my compass.
As a working artist it's easy to forget the enjoyment of painting when faced with the pressure to produce. So, hopefully things are back in balance now some of the distractions have gone!
keep warm , Jan
Wife, mother, nana, gardener, painter....read my full profile here.